Eastern Ice - Calculated Guesswork

Funeral Fall and Glen Muick

I've spent the last week trying to predict, find and climb as much ice as possible. My mind was first opened up to the idea that there could be a fair amount of ice around when Mark and myself went into Dreish's Winter Corrie last Saturday. Although the upper section was incomplete, the classic 'Diagonal gully' had formed it's beautiful sprawling first pitch. We elected to go higher into the mists and have a look at 'The Waterfall'. We were rewarded with a cracking pitch of around III.

Mark with a massive piece of fence rime

The indications were that if it had been consistently cold enough to form water ice in Glen Clova then other haunts in the east that tend to hold the cold better could be spectacular. I headed up to Aviemore to have a look at Lurcher's with Dave G on Tuesday and we found a fair bit of ice around choosing to climb 'North gully' which was in great condition. We also had the wind at our backs which made the harsh westerlies far less debilitating.

Dave and  North Gully
The snowfall in Aviemore and further west forced us to plan for the east and on Thursday we made an ascent of a thawing 'Look C gully' in Corrie Fee. Much of the gully was thin and cruddy but the crux pitch was excellent bold, thin cauliflower ice that made the whole enterprise worthwhile. The Eastern glens also had very little new snow and the weather was excellent.

Look C Gully

Looking down Look C
What we had seen and climbed so far gave us high hopes for the potential of Glen Muick, the ice mecca of the east of Scotland so we headed in to Glas Alt Sheil bothy on Fiday and had a wander up to the Dubh Loch to see what was there. The first thing we seen was the awesome line of 'Funeral Fall's' on Broad Cairn bluffs which looked in stunning condition. unfortunately Creag an Dubh loch itself has very little on it although Eagle rocks seemed to have formed somewhat but we never ventured far enough to get a look at the far side properly.

Walking into Glas Alt Sheil

Glas Alt Sheil
Unfortunately we had a terrible night in the bothy when 3 obnoxious yob's turned up and drunk, sung, argued and filled the bothy with weed well into the morning. Dave ended up walking all the way back out to his car to try and sleep while I stayed, neither of us got much rest and by the time we reached the base of Funeral Falls the next day we were in no physical or mental state for climbing.

Approaching Funeral Fall

Funeral Fall

Walking back out with our kit still stinking of weed knowing that we had judged ice, snow, weather and approach conditions almost perfectly and being thwarted by idiots who were completely ignorant to the bothy having any other purpose than that of a shell to disrespect with no repercussions was bitter. Certainly my worst experience in almost 20 years of mountaineering in Scotland and not a good start to Dave's bothy career.

Creag an Dubh Loch

The winter seems to be shaping up to be a cracker though, best I can remember being about for anyway.


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